Monday, May 29, 2006

Some of you will recall that Donna and I sailed on a Caribbean cruise last week on the Carnival Legend. You may also have seen that ship in the headlines the last day or so.
The next few days I’m going to be telling you about the cruise and posting photos. We generally had a good time and so I wanted to mention tragedy right off the bat.

It was around 1:15am on Saturday morning when I was awoken by the Captain’s voice over the public address system. As any of you who have cruised before know, they seldom make announcements after 10:00pm and NEVER in the middle of the night. The Captain said, as closely as I recall, “Operation Bravo. Operation Bravo, all staff. Operation Bravo on the starboard side.”

Having served in the U.S. Navy my initial reaction was that there was a fire. When I noticed no alarms sounding, I immediately realized that it had to be the second worst incident, namely a ‘man overboard.’ Going out on the patio I noticed, being all the way aft, the ship was slowing quickly and then turning sharply. Peter, who was sharing our cabin, also awoke and we saw the ship’s searchlights playing over the surface. A call to the Purser/Reception Desk got me an ‘everything is under control’ response. It was only about twenty minutes later when the Cruise Director came over the P.A. to verify the ‘man overboard’ situation.

For the next twelve hours the Legend, along with the U.S. Coast Guard (via aircraft) and at least one other vessel (a private sailing boat) continued to cover the area in which the man had disappeared.

According to word making the rounds (including several of our tablemates, who had a stateroom several doors down from the man and his family), the husband had been drinking quite a bit, and had lost a ‘large amount’ in the casino. He and his wife had been heard arguing several times around the ship and security was called around 12:45. Upon several members of the security team gaining entrance to the room, the husband made a dash for the patio and leaped over the railing. This was witnessed by the security team, the wife and at least one of their two children (reported to be around seven years old, and I have been told there was a young child as well). Obviously, in this type of situation rumors abound, but I’ve tried to keep this to what we heard from first and second hand sources.

Over the next two nights, Donna and I saw the wife accompanied at all times in both the dining room and in the lobby leading to the buffet by a female security officer. Our table mates, who shared the deck with the family, told us that a security guard was posted permanently outside the cabin.

Sadly, no report I’ve yet heard or read states that the man or his remains have been located. From my knowledge of the vessel and my experience in the Navy, I have to assume that he was more than likely immediately pulled into the wake of the ship, probably under & into the propellers.

We may never know the entire situation, but my thoughts must go out to his wife and children, as well as any other surviving family. This is an incident that will remain with them for the rest of the lives and I hope that the media will leave them in peace.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

We're off on our cruise later today, so I won't be blogging or reading anything for the next 8 to 9 days. Wanted to give you something to stare out for a while and nothing brings to mind cruising like the towel animals the cabin stewards create almost every evening.

I'll be honest. I was so used to seeing them on the bed or nightstand that the 'monkey' hanging from the mirror actually scared me at first. Of course, the several drinks I had before hand didn't help I suppose!

Take care and have a great Memorial Day, if I don't get back here before then.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I've heard that as part of his border patrol initiative, G.W. is going to announce tonight that Jenna & Barbara are joining the National Guard. They'll be assigned to ride armed speed boats along the Rio Grande to keep illegals from swimming up to the riverwalk in San Antonio.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

It's hard to believe that this time next Saturday, I'll be sitting aboard the Carnival Legend preparing to set sail out of New York harbor. Donna, Pete and I will have already taken part in the lifeboat drill and will probably be sitting out on our balconey watching the Statue of Liberty pass along side. We would have already had lunch and probably a drink or two, just to get into the proper cruise state of mind.

We still haven't been given our room assignment, but we have been guaranteed a balconey stateroom at least. According to the 'cruise advisor' we may very well be getting an upgrade, but that could be anything from a room on a higher deck to an extended balconey. It is possible, given when we booked and being past passengers, that we may even get a mini-suite. Hoo boy!!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

You really do have to wonder about that 31% that seems to remain behind the President. Almost every day brings us some new action which cuts away at that support, but I guess (as folks on Air America often conjecture) people refuse to admit that they could have been so wrong about him.

How are the Republicans running this Fall going to put a good face on all this? At some point many of them will have to find some small thing to point to as showing that they have been productive. Iraq, the economy and gas prices aren't really the best things on which to rest their platforms. It is going to be another ugly campaign with the Right Wing playing for their base.

It's good to know that if I forget who I called the other day, by deleting my Incoming/Outgoing file I can contact the NSA.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Had a very interesting experience this morning at a local school here in Queens. Each year they hold a "Career Day" and invite people in various occupations to take part. When another librarian couldn't go the buck was passed aand I accepted.

Try to explain what you do to a 1st grader! Fortunately, many of the kids already know me, as they come with their parents, but it's still hard to keep them interested for more than a few minutes, let alone twenty (as I was asked to do). I actually had a much better time with the fourth grade class I met with initially. Kids seem excited to know that this library carries comics, graphic novels & manga, besides "real books."

Still doing the countdown to the cruise and am contemplating putting something up on both blogs while I'm away. Probably some of the photos I still haven't posted already from our previous cruise. Nothing says "we're on vacation" like a towel elephant.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sometimes I think the most important thing I do around here is trying to smooth the ruffled feathers of patrons. Library policies (and this is true of all libraries I've worked in, not just Queens) can sometimes be a bit hard to understand and people get upset when they can't get immediate results. Of course, it would help if some of my staff were a bit more patient, but that's another story completely.

It seems that a day doesn't go by now without thoughts of the up-coming cruise. We've already booked a tour for San Juan, including a stop at the Bacardi distillery. Pete and I are definetely planning on hitting the beach in St. Thomas, but haven't decided what to do in Tortola (as some past passengers haven't had the best things to say about that place). Donna may decide just to do a bit of shopping in St. Thomas and leave us guys to ourselves.

Just a reminder that I'm still looking for a library position in southern California, if you happen to know of one!

Friday, May 05, 2006

So, Donna and I are reading some reviews by past passengers on the Carnival Legend yesterday. We often will do this when unfamiliar with a ship or some of the ports. It turns out that only last year while doing this same cruise we will be departing on the Legend almost capsized!!

As some of you may or may not know, unless a passenger ship is leaving or entering a port, much of the cruise of done by computer in the same fashion as the 'automatic pilot' on a plane. At least one crew member is on the bridge, just in case something occurs and the ship's Captain must be informed. In the case of U.S. Navy ships the bridge is generally manned by a half a dozen or more officers and enlisted, depending on the type of ship and under what conditions the ship is sailing (weather related, or peace time opposed to 'war time' cruising).

Apparently, around 5:00pm, after the Legend had left Tortolla for the return voyage to New York, a "computer glitch" occured forcing the ship to tilt over to the side. While nobody was seriously injured, the pools (some with passengers) emptied onto the deck, items in staterooms, shops and the restaurant were tossed about. Some passengers report that lower cabins, with portholes, were actually underwater while others viewed only the sky. Unlike the situation involving the rogue wave that many read about, there was no flooding or major damage. Some passengers say others actually carried or wore their lifejackets for the next day or so.

While in the Navy I can report several times when the ships I was aboard tilting anywhere from 20 to 30 degrees of more, during storms. At least once I was almost swept over the side while trying to negotiate an outside ladder during one such gale. Not something I miss!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ahoy, shipmates! Just when you thought it was safe to put out to sea, the Chaputs have decided to go cruising once again. Damn, but you would think that once a year would be enough wouldn't you?

I was hoping that the release of the new remake of "The Poseidon Adventure" (simply called POSEIDON this time around) would put a damper on any ocean voyagers for a bit, but no dice!

Anyway, in just under 19 days we will join our friend, Pete, aboard the Carnival Legend for an eight day Caribbean cruise. I'll let you know more later.